When we decide to stand up, sit down, walk or pick up an object, our brain sends a signal to the muscles in the various parts of our body, essentially telling them to move, bend, or grip onto an object in order to lift it up. Ataxia is a type of movement disorder that impedes our bodies ability to relay those messages correctly, resulting in diminished muscle control during those voluntary movements. For example, an individual suffering from ataxia who tries to pick up an object, may not be able to grip it properly, and, as a result, drop it.
The primary cause of ataxia is damage to the part of the brain called the cerebelum although diseases that damage the spinal cord such as multiple sclerosis are also known to cause ataxia. The cerebelum can be found at the base of the brain near the brain stem and is responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement. It is made up of two ping-pong-ball sized sections; one on the right, and one on the left. The right section of the cerebleum controls the coordination of the right half of the body, and the left section manages the coordination of the left side of the body.
Damage to one side of the cerebelum or the other can lead to a form of ataxia which impairs only one side of the body. This damage can result in several or all of the following symptoms including poor coordination, a tendency to stumble when walking, an inability to do tasks that require motor skills such as buttoning up a shirt, eating or drinking, involuntary back and forth eyemovements, difficulty swallowing, and a change in movement. These are all indications of Ataxia and could have been caused by trauma to the head, stroke, multiple sclerosis, chickenpox or diseases such as cerebral palsy.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact us immediately. Our team of Neurology experts will be able to assess your condition and determine the care and treatment options that are right for you.